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How to Build a Hanging Rack and Nesting Boxes

Turn an unsightly pile into storage with style with these step-by-step instructions.

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Step 1: Plan the Rack

Wasted Spaces host Karl Champley designs the storage closet to include an oversized hanging rack like those used in stores to display large rugs or quilts. The key to custom storage is knowing what you’re going to store. After purging any unwanted items, lay out the remaining items.

The rack in this demonstration will store sleeping bags, Halloween costumes and other large, "hangable" textiles. Hanging the sleeping bags will help them keep their shape and stay fresher than if they were stored in tight rolls.
Using the measurement of the longest sleeping bag (or other hanging item) and the number of items to hang, figure out the height and width of the hanging rack. Make sure to allow a little space between the bottom of the longest item and the floor to prevent dragging. Also leave some extra space for additional items to hang.

Step 2: Mark the Wall Studs and Cut a 2x6

At the wall, use a stud finder and pencil to mark the locations of the wall studs (usually 16" apart) as well as the top edge of the rack.

Cut a piece of 2x6 lumber to slightly less than the total width of the rack. This board, called a ledger board, will attach to the studs and give a solid surface for attaching the rack. This way, the rack can attach at any point along the ledger board instead of having to screw directly into studs.

Step 3: Secure the Ledger Board

Position the ledger board at the top mark for the rack. Drill pilot holes and secure the board to the studs with lag bolts and washers. Once the first bolt is in place, make sure the board is level before attaching the other bolts.
It may not look like much – and won’t even show in the final piece – but a properly positioned ledger board is the key to the entire rack.

With the ledger board in place, it's time to build the mounting box that will form the body of the oversized hanging rack. Use gudgeons, pintles, dowels and PVC pipe to create large swivel hangers, then bring the pieces inside for assembly.

Step 4: Build the Mounting Box

Using the dimensions of the ledger board as a guide, sketch out the design for the mounting box that will fit over the ledger board and hold the swivel hangers.

Set the blade on a compound miter saw to 45 degrees. These mitered edges on the plywood sides of the box will create tight, strong joints.
Measure and cut the pieces for the mounting box from birch plywood (Image 1).
Assemble the box using wood glue and nails. Use extreme caution and wear safety glasses if working with a nail gun; these powerful tools can drive nails through wood – or hands or feet – instantly.

The front of the box will need to be extra-strong to hold the weight of the hanging items. To reinforce it, measure the inside of the box front. Set the compound miter saw to 90 degrees (a straight cut), and cut a piece of plywood to fit snugly inside the box. Secure this piece in place with wood glue and nails.
Use wood filler to smooth the outside joints of the box. Let the filler cure according to the package instructions.

Sand, prime and paint the box as desired (Image 2).

Step 5: Secure the Gudgeons

Once the paint has dried, position the gudgeons on the front of mounting box. Make a pencil mark through the holes in the gudgeons, remove the gudgeons and drill holes at the marks. Put the gudgeons back in place and use a socket wrench to secure them with bolts, nuts and washers.

Tip: If you have trouble finding gudgeons and pintles at your home improvement store, try a marine supply store or online vendor.

Screw the pintles into the ends of thick wooden dowels. These dowels will support the weight of hanging items.

Step 6: Attach Clamps to the PVC

Measure the width of the items to hang from the rack and cut lengths of PVC pipe to that measurement. The pipe should be wide enough to slide over the dowels.

Attach clamps to the pieces of PVC pipe to hold large items that could slip off the hangers (Image 1). To do this, drill a hole through the handle of a clamp, and a corresponding hole through the pipe. Insert a machine screw through the hole from the inside of the pipe, then through the clamp. Secure with a washer and nut. Repeat this process for the other clamps.

Tip: If you don’t have a magnetic screwdriver, run the end of a regular screwdriver over a magnet several times to magnetize it. This will make it easier to drive the screw.

Fit the box over the ledger board already mounted on the wall. Drive three screws through the top of the box into the ledger board to secure it.
Set the pintles into the gudgeons and slip the PVC pipe sections over the dowels to complete the assembly (Images 2 and 3).

Step 7: Build Nesting Boxes

Good nesting boxes fit together like a puzzle, so exact measurements are important. Sketch out the boxes – and how they’ll fit together – to help plan the project.

Carefully measure and mark birch plywood for the boxes, then cut with a circular saw. Karl uses 3/4" plywood for the boxes’ sides but 1/2" and 1/4" plywood for the box bottoms to keep the boxes from getting too heavy. (Remember: The boxes will be used on their sides, so the bottoms won’t be bearing weight.)

Assemble the boxes using wood glue and nails, driving a nail every 6 inches, Use a staple gun to attach the 1/4" plywood (Image 1).

Sand, prime and paint the boxes as desired (Image 2).